Tis the Season for Vin Brulè: Italian Mulled Wine

Food & Wine Florence Milan

Vin Brule Recipe and Christmas Traditions in Italy

Beginning in late November, Christmas markets start popping up in piazzas all across Italy. The piazzas are cluttered with quaint, holly-decked vendors selling handcraft goods or tasty treats. Meanwhile, all across the cities and towns, twinkling lights adorn windows and storefronts, bakeries sell traditional "panettone" cakes with mugs of melted "cioccolata calda", and massive Christmas trees are set up in front of major churches, such as the Duomo in Florence or Milan. 

Like any country, Italy has a wealth of festive traditions for Christmas that turn the country into a winter wonderland. These traditions, among other reasons, make November and December a perfect time to visit Italy. If you find yourself visiting Italy between late November and Christmas, you’ll want to try all of these traditions, especially the ones surrounding food. You can dig into a slice of "panettone", a traditional Christmastime dessert originating from Milan. It is a sort of sweet bread loaf that can be prepared in a variety of ways, usually depending on the region. It can be made with dried fruits, chocolate, mascarpone cream, or even the alcoholic amaretto. Another tasty, traditional Christmastime dessert is Torrone, which is a type of honeyed, nutty fudge. Both of these yuletide treats pair excellently with a cup of melted hot chocolate, but if you’re looking for something as traditional and unique as the panettone or torrone, you can drink a glass of "vin brule". 

Vin Brule –Mulled Wine in Italy

"Vin brule" is Italy’s version of mulled wine, or hot, spiced red wine. Though the name originates from the French phrase meaning "burnt wine", vin brule is a traditional Italian drink served during the cold winter months, especially around Christmastime. Italians have been drinking mulled wine since the Middle Ages, and historians speculate it originated as a way to salvage spoiled wine, not just as a way of keeping warm during the winter. Like "panettone", it is especially popular in the northern regions, but can be found in Christmas markets and restaurants all over the country. Vin brule is not just a warm wintertime comfort, it can also be used to treat certain ailments like the flu and common cold. 

Also like panettone, and most traditional Italian dishes, the recipe for vin brule varies ever so slightly from region to region, and even from city to city. If you can’t make it to Italy for Christmastime, or you enjoyed your glass of mulled wine and would like to bring a recipe back home with you for the holidays, then here is a recipe for "vin brule" you can try. 

Now for the recipe. The total time of preparation is 20 minutes, with about 10 minutes for prep time and 10 minutes for actual cooking. This recipe can make up to 6 glasses of vin brule.


You will need: 
1 large stainless steel pan
1 wooden spoon
1 bottle of red wine 
8 cloves 
2 cinnamon sticks
A pinch of nutmeg
1 orange 
1 lemon 
1 apple
200g of sugar
Better to use organic fruit that have an untreated rind.

Instructions: How To Make Vin Brule

In order to make your glasses of vin brule, 
1. Peel the orange and lemon. Discard the white parts to prevent a bitter aftertaste in the wine. Thinly slice the apple keeping the peel.
2. Put the apple, lemon, orange, sugar, and spices into the large, stainless steel pan. Let them simmer for a minute. 
3. Pour the bottle of wine into the mix
4. Slowly and occasionally stir the ingredients as you bring it to a boil
5. Continue until the sugar is completely dissolved (about 10 minutes)
6. Filter the mulled wine with a colander, and pour into glasses or mugs. Serve it hot, and enjoy!